Entrepreneur’s Equity

December 13th, 2018

I am often asked by founders and entrepreneurs in small businesses, “at what point should I consciously start sharing equity in order to attract and retain key people?” My retort, which stuns a lot of them, is “why would you ever consider doing that?”

After all, as the founder or entrepreneur, you have taken all the financial and non-financial risk to this point, you have established the business to maximise your independence and freedom, and you have paid your employees handsome salaries, bonuses and benefits for producing expected or superior results. 

A great many founders and entrepreneurs confuse gifting equity with two issues: (1) “producing results” and (2) “rewarding results”. 

You produce results by hiring qualified people, creating a positive environment, giving them clear objectives, metrics (progress and success),  accountabilities and timelines.

You reward results through a range of financial and non-financial incentives (pay, benefits, bonuses, gratifying work and meaningful career progression).   

My point here is not that you would never offer equity to a key individual but rather you must have absolute clarity about what you are seeking to ideally accomplish, the alternatives, the pros and cons of each and the best solution for your business. Being “frightened of them walking out” is rarely ever a good reason for an entrepreneur or founder to do it without rationally  examining your “fear”.    

Problem Gambling Addicts

December 12th, 2018

A number of well-meaning individuals, who have suffered the consequences of gambling addiction in the UK have made it their mission in life to educate others about the risks of gambling. Here is the irony, in arriving to solve the problem, they end up becoming the problem.

They routinely confuse their unfortunate “past” with the requisite skills, behaviours and expertise to productively educate others about a healthy coexistence with gambling. A legal enterprise and form of entertainment for millions that is not disappearing anytime soon. They view themselves as “better” qualified to help. They enlist political support and disproportionate media coverage because they see themselves as “victims” (of avaricious gambling companies) and the media are only too ready to help them tell their story. Their tales are powerful images of lives destroyed fuelled by low self-esteem, talent and judgement. Yet rarely do you see them taking individual accountability.

When they are offered the chance to collaborate with other “experts”, who have successfully drawn a livelihood from sports betting, they find it “contradictory”. It is hard not to conclude that their new found self-confidence has stepped over into arrogance.  Their policy (blanket bans) and educational approaches (prevention) are not a common sense solution to the real world problems that we face in today’s society. 

Let’s be clear the proliferation of fixed odds betting terminals in UK betting shops, and adverts that promote bets the punter cannot win long-term on (Skybet, Bet 365) and delusionary levels of self-esteem have no place. Beyond that there is an urgent need for people with a depth and breadth of knowledge and unbiased views about sports betting (rarely problem gamblers) to inform impressionable youngsters. 

What Is Your Point

December 12th, 2018

If you insist on asking a question seeking an answer that conforms to your worldview, and you show zero interest in the response or instantly reject an opposing view, why should someone invest further time with you? 

The Power of Listening

December 10th, 2018

Don’t you smile when the loudmouth cannot control him or herself wading in with an uninformed opinion because they simply have to be heard. Whether it is in business, politics, or other aspects of life, we underestimate the power of “active” listening, at our peril.

Anonymity

December 6th, 2018

I am always reminded of the Oxford English Dictionary definition of anonymity when I receive requests from anonymous sources, those insistent on quoting anonymous sources or those who refuse to identify themselves on social media: “the lack of outstanding, individual, or unusual features; impersonality.”

Gambling Sense

December 6th, 2018

Here in the UK with arguably one of the most liberal attitudes to gambling and sports betting, a collection of the leading gambling companies ban betting adverts in live sports broadcasts. Ostensibly, to assuage government and public opinion about the unfettered promotion of football betting to young kids and the vulnerable. Here is the rub: it is too late and it ignores, the most important issue, individual accountability. Just as signs on bridges warning people about the dangers of suicide, do little to stop suicides. If you don’t focus on really meaningful actions, educating people, and holding them individually to account for their actions, you merely dance around the problem.    

Sexism or Sensationalism

December 4th, 2018


French DJ and Ballon d’Or host Martin Solveig makes a mistimed joke to the inaugural women’s winner, Norway’s Ada Hegerberg about her ability to twerk, and the thought police descend into hoots of derision. A remark that Hegerberg herself didn’t see as sexist but lo and behold Solveig is piled on by assorted media characters and indeed, British tennis player, Andy Murray. When we sensationalise every iota of modern life that doesn’t conform to our belief system, we merely end up drowning out horrible acts of sexism, racism, and ageism that are truly worthy of our disdain.  

Brexit Brouhaha

November 30th, 2018

You have to laugh when political commentators get so wrapped up in their political bubble, they are prone to making ridiculous statements. The BBC’s political reporter, Laura Kuenssberg, described Brexit, “As the most important decision we have had to make since 1945”. Excuse me, what about the decisions to go to war in the Falklands, Afghanistan twice, Iraq and multiple other situations. Aren’t life and death decisions rather more grave?   

Blind Customer Service

November 30th, 2018

I called my opticians asking to order some more contact lenses. The receptionist responds, “sorry sir, we don’t seem to have your records.” After giving a few more details, she responds “let me go and speak to one of my colleagues.” She returns saying, “I found your details, I am sorry they are out of date on our system. Bear with me, do you think you could come in for a new eye test, such that we can update our records?” (I’d only done that 6 weeks ago). Then the conversation moves onto suitable appointment times, three of my suggestions are met with “I am sorry we have no availability”. She asks to put me on hold (we’ve been speaking for 11 minutes). We finally get a convenient date agreed. 

Opticians as with dentists and vets businesses are feted for their clients loyalty, the predictability of recurring business and their earnings. When customer service is so derisory, how long before those “strengths” evaporate and then is no “magic” left?  

Morose Events

November 30th, 2018

I speak at 10 events a year, attend a further 35 events a year and probably get invited to 250 globally. I find there to be a direct correlation between the number of “paid for speaking slots” and boredom. Yet a great many event hosts cannot see it or marvel at “I love what she had to say….”, expecting me to be a cheerleader for their false excitement.  Let me share a blunt truth: people predominantly pay to speak, as a shortcut to getting their ideas out there without any validity or authority.